THE ACT OF STORY STATEMENT
Descending into the abyss of heroin addiction, junkie lovers Billy and Kendra, embark on a bus journey to learn the story of Billy’s late father, a legendary blues pianist, known as The Prophet.
THE ANTAGONIST PLOTS THE POINT
At a seedy blues club in Mobile, Billy and Kendra strike up a conversation with brothers, Christian and Jeremiah Siefert. Billy, stoned and immersed in the music doesn’t hear Kendra sharing details of the bus journey with the brothers. The next morning, Christian and Jeremiah board the bus bound for Atlanta. Both are wearing Make America Great Again hats and tee-shirts. Christian, wearing ear buds, is singing aloud "Sweet Home Alabama." It's the week following the presidential election, and the brothers believe they've been given the mandate to take back white America. Billy, the product of a Nigerian mother and white father, becomes a particularly enticing target, especially since the brothers know he has inheritance money in his pocket. The brothers, following Billy and Kendra on their journey south across Florida’s panhandle, terrorize and threaten passengers at and between each rest stop. Billy and Kendra rid themselves of the brothers after a major confrontation at one Florida stop. Or, at least the thought they did.
CONJURING YOUR BREAKOUT TITLE
One Way Ticket
Medicine Man Blues
The Prophet’s Son
DECIDING YOUR GENRE AND APPROACHING COMPARABLES
General fiction or upmarket.
While there are some novels built around addiction, two that focus on heroin addiction seem to be the best comparables for my book:
Requiem For a Dream by Herbert Selvy
Trainspotting by Irvine Welsh
CONSIDERING THE PRIMARY CONFLICT - COMING OF THE "AGON"
Penniless, strung out and, once again, suicidal (after three failed attempts), Billy must now learn about (and from) the dead father he never knew. At the same time, the Siefert brothers bring him face-to-face with the brutal reality of being a mixed-race junkie in America’s new, emboldened south.
OTHER MATTERS OF CONFLICT: TWO MORE LEVELS
INNER CONFLICT: Like many addicts, Billy lives his life in a constant state of fear and paranoia, cowering in the face of any confrontation. In Atlanta, Chloe boards the bus and enters Billy and Kendra’s life. Chloe is a female-identified transgender, heading to Orlando to confront the Evangelical father who threw her to the street at 16. Fragile and anxious, Chloe becomes a distinct mark for the Sieferts. Billy finds himself drawn to Chloe on many levels, but mostly as a protector, putting himself in between her and the hateful brothers. In a climactic scene, Chloe is found dead in the bus lavatory, an apparent suicide. Billy snaps blames the brothers for her death and, in a state of blind rage, climbs several rows of seats to attack them with his bare hands.
SECONDARY CONFLICT: Billy did not want to drag Kendra on this journey. He’s come to realize the sick, co-dependence that defines their relationship. But she insists on going, refusing to remain in New York alone, and as always, he is unable to say no, to set boundaries. He resents Kendra for her “loose lips gaffe” of telling the Sieferts about the bus journey. And he is disgusted in watching her fall deeper into her addiction, not realizing that what he is watching is nothing more than a mirror of his life.
SECONDARY CONFLICT 2: In addition to caring for Kendra, Billy also has to grapple with the reality of his father's life story. Billy believed his father died young, soon after Billy's birth. To discover the deceit was one thing, but the more Billy learns about his late father, the more he comes to appreciate the depths of his psychosis.
THE INCREDIBLE IMPORTANCE OF SETTING
Addiction is very much about claustrophobia, the sense of dread and paranoia that comes with the feeling of being trapped with limited options.
The story begins in Billy and Kendra’s squalid, roach-infested, junkie apartment in lower Manhattan.
After learning of his father's death, Billy decides to fly to New Orleans to settle the estate. He's never flown before, and despite ingesting three Xanax, he has a panic attack in mid-flight that sets the stage for the rest of the story.
Billy learns that his father was a blues piano player, legendary throughout the south under the name The Prophet. Aware that he was dying of pancreatic cancer, The Prophet boards a Greyhound Bus for a final tour of the Southern jazz/blues clubs in which he built his reputation. Billy learns about the bus journey when he finds The Prophet’s journal. Knowing he’ll never get on a plane again and curious about his father’s life, he convinces Kendra they should return to New York by way of The Prophet’s final tour itinerary.
Much of the story is then spent onboard the claustrophobic environs of various Greyhound coaches, as well as inside the many filthy, decrepit depots and rest stops along the way. We learn that Greyhound is the transportation of necessity, not a choice, for America's drifters, ex-cons, dreamers, women on the run, hookers, junkies and "the other 1%." We see the reverse racism perpetuated on then predominantly black passengers by black employees who assume a position of power by wearing a Greyhound uniform.
A forum for writers in the St. Augustine Author-Mentor Novel Workshops to engage in writing assignments and further studies in the art of fiction writing.
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